Beacham, LeGrand, and Gaines (1925-1927/1928)
The short-lived architectural firm of Beacham, LeGrand, and Gaines was formed in 1925 by James Douthit Beacham, Leon LeGrand and Henry Irven Gaines amid a building boom in Asheville and western North Carolina. Beacham and LeGrand, already partners in Beacham and LeGrand , entered into a “three-way partnership” with the younger architect Henry Gaines, who was like the other men a native of South Carolina who had worked for Joseph Emory Sirrine . The announcement of the opening of the Asheville office in the Asheville Citizen of July 17, 1925 noted that it was to be located in the Medical Building and operated by “junior partner” Gaines. The article explained that the Asheville office of Beacham, LeGrand, and Gaines was to be separate from Beacham and LeGrand’s firm in Greenville “although associated for mutual convenience.” The trio soon joined with other regional architects to organize the professional group called the Architect’s Association of Western North Carolina.
The new partnership got off to a promising start with major commissions. The Southern Tourist of April, 1926 carried an article on “Beacham, LeGrand and Gaines, Architects” headed, “This firm of Young Architects Have Designed Some of the Most Important Buildings in the South.” Based on an interview with Gaines, the report stated that the firm had handled building projects valued at over $5 million with a specialty being “suburban and tourist hotels and commercial buildings,” as well as residences. The article cited specific projects including the Citizens Bank in Burnsville, N. C.; the First National Bank in Marion, N. C. (evidently not executed); and three Fleetwood Hotels& 8212;at Augusta, Ga.; Daytona, Fla.; and at Hendersonville, N. C.
The saga of the Fleetwood Hotel at Hendersonville, the largest of the projects cited in 1926 for Beacham, LeGrand, and Gaines, epitomizes the boom and bust of resort and real estate development in western North Carolina, which was linked with the Florida land boom of the 1920s. In 1925 J. Perry Stolz, builder of the Fleetwood Hotel in Miami, Florida, developed plans to erect another Fleetwood Hotel atop Jump Off Mountain near Hendersonville, North Carolina& 8212;a luxurious and modern, $2 million steel and brick structure 15 stories high. Such a project was a plum job for the newly established architectural firm, and Gaines was the principal local architect. A concrete-paved road was built up the mountain to the site for transporting construction materials, and work began at a rapid pace. Early in 1926, however, financial problems halted construction. Despite efforts at refinancing, the 13th floor was the last one completed.
As Gaines told the story in an interview in 1975, “I went to work for this firm in Greenville call[ed] Beacham and LeGrand. Well, when we opened this office here, we called it Beacham, LeGrand, and Gaines. We had a three-way partnership, but these two fellows had a good business in Greenville. We were struggling along, but they said, ‘Aw hell, we don’t want to put more money in this thing.’ Well, I was here [in Asheville], and I didn’t have anywhere else to go, so I had to stay. They withdrew, and I kept running my own office.” By 1928, as indicated in Asheville city directories, Beacham and LeGrand were practicing on their own with offices in Greenville and Asheville, and Gaines had his own practice in Asheville. The Fleetwood Hotel stood unfinished for years and was razed in the 1930s. Gaines recalled that he was owed $25,000 from the owner, which he was never paid. In 1942 Gaines joined other western North Carolina architects to form Six Associates.
- David R. Black, Historic Architectural Resources of Downtown Asheville, North Carolina (1979).
- Henry Irven Gaines, Kings Maelum (1972).
- Louis D. Silvestri, interview with Henry Irven Gaines, June 15, 1975, Southern Highlands Research Center, The University of North Carolina at Asheville, http://toto.lib.unca.edu/findingaids/oralhistory/SHRC/gaines_henry.pdf.
- John E. Wells and Robert E. Dalton, The South Carolina Architects, 1885-1935: A Biographical Dictionary (1992).
- Dates:1925Location:Burnsville, Yancey CountyStreet Address:S Town Square, Burnsville, NCStatus:StandingType:CommercialNote:The 3-story edifice of yellow brick features arched openings and classical detailing is likely the Citizens National Bank in Burnsville credited to Beacham, LeGrand, and Gaines in the Southern Tourist article of April 1926. It is not known if it was planned before or after Gaines joined with Beacham and LeGrand in the summer of 1925 or whether Gaines or the other partners were the principal architects. Reflecting the town's mid-1920s prosperity, the building was a uniquely elaborate and stylish structure in a community characterized by vernacular and relatively modest architecture. The bank failed in 1932. For several years the building served as the public library.
- Dates:1925-1926Location:Hendersonville, Henderson CountyStreet Address:Jump Off Mountain, Laurel Park, Hendersonville vicinity, NCStatus:No longer standingType:CommercialImages Puslished In:Henry Irven Gaines, Kings Maelum (1972).Note:The postcard seen here depicts the Fleetwood Hotel as its sponsors envisioned it, but it was never completed. Although the steel frame was raised, other work stopped at the 13th floor. After standing unfinished for years, the Fleetwood Hotel was razed in 1936-1937 and its materials were salvaged, as reported in the Burlington, N. C. Daily Times-News, July 4, 1936. Meanwhile, the ruin attracted visitors and legends, and hundreds of bathtubs and other fixtures for the hotel were quietly removed from the site and reused in homes throughout the locale. See http://cdm15733.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/search/searchterm/Beacham for photographs of the Fleetwood Hotel under construction and as left unfinished in 1926.